by Aaron Earls
Small churches are friendly, while megachurches feel cold. Big churches have lots of programs for families, and small churches have bad preaching.
Congregational stereotypes often color people’s view of a church before they ever visit it. But are they true?
Faith Perceptions hired mystery guests who were predominately unchurched to visit churches in their area and rate them in 16 categories. As it turns out, many of the preconceived ideas held true for the visitors.
Micro churches, those 80 and under in attendance, ranked highest in the greeting upon arrival, friendliness, as well as the pre- and post-service atmosphere.
They scored the lowest of all sized churches, however, in 10 categories including music, speaker, information (this includes website), children and youth ministries, and likelihood of returning. Their overall experience grade and average score from all 16 categories was the lowest as well.
Meanwhile, megachurches, those with more than 1,000 attendees, had an almost exact opposite response from the mystery guests. While they had the highest overall rating (7.37) and were the churches to which visitors would most likely return, they garnered low grades for their friendless (6.99) and related categories.
In general, all the church sizes did well, with all receiving “fair” gradings – 7.0 to 7.5 out of 10 – on overall experience and their all category average.
When all of the churches were averaged together, most categories were graded as fair, with seating, greeting, speaker, and friendliness all receiving a grade between 7.5 and 8.0 or “good.”
Churches were not viewed positively in terms of their community awareness, as well as their outreach and diversity. In that category, every church size was graded as “very poor” – 6.50 and less.
With diversity and outreach, mystery guests were told to rate “how diverse the church is and how it connects with its community with respect to age, socioeconomic status, gender, and various ethnicities that live in the area.”
Perhaps surprisingly, while still low, micro churches had the highest ranking on diversity and outreach (6.30), with megachurches scoring the lowest (5.06).
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of FactsAndTrends.net.
photo credit: J. Stephen Conn via photopin cc